As a franchisor, I’m often faced with making decisions that affect the nearly 40 franchisees in my company’s system. There’s a fine line between providing enough support so franchisees can utilize their gifts and grow into an excellent business leader, and holding their hand so much that they become incapable of making their own decisions. Toeing this line is what turns each staffer (and your business) into something special. Of course, these lessons aren’t unique to franchising, and can be applied to any business owner who affects change in a company.

Identify your role. The first step is to identify the type of leader you want to be. You need to define your role. For instance, will you provide just the basic concepts and structure or will you also provide day-to-day guidance and support? These roles and responsibilities are shaped in part by your teams’ needs and will be essential to preventing miscommunication.

Look for a mentor (or three). At City Wide, we provide three different coaching/support positions because the talent of each party is so different. We strive for one support person for every seven franchisees – this direct support provides better results for everyone involved, including our clients.

However you structure it in your organization, make sure that key needs are met. I recommend an operations coach, who deals with client retention and satisfaction; a sales coach who helps build new accounts; and a management coach, who shares how to improve as a professional business owner. Each of our franchisees has access to all of these coaches.

Think ahead. Always look for proactive opportunities to provide support. In addition to the coaches who are proactively visiting franchisees, we have a host of support centers for HR, IT, accounting and marketing. Every aspect of the business is covered through specialists in the areas. In order to provide world-class services to your team, you need world class support. Having these experts in place can help you plan as well as react better to the unexpected.

You get what you give. Identify up front who is responsible for what – core competency is important. Recognize strengths and weaknesses, and then fill in the holes where you and your franchisees need help.

At City Wide, find that franchising is a mechanism for attracting the right kind of people. We see it as an extension of our own business. Be prepared to invest a lot of time, energy and money into your team – whether they are staffers or franchisees. In order to be successful you have to think big, and you can’t do that alone.